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11-30-00 We strongly deny having violated the law

NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE TELEGRAM, 9-22-00, By Diana May

[Mall cuts buses]

"ELYRIA-- A recent restructuring of Lorain County Transit bus routes has left some area shoppers holding the bag at Midway Mall.

The number of buses allowed on mall property at any one time was reduced to two after a demand from the mall's management company, the Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc, said Debbie Mohr, LCT general manger ...

Mohr said handicapped passengers are forced to transfer to other buses or take shuttles in order to get to the mall. The Lowe's store is located across state Route 57 from the mall.

But David Reed, Midway Mall's general manager, said the mall property is not designed to be a hub for bus traffic ...

Reed's also cited complaints by the manager of one of the mall's anchor stores that its entrance was being used by LCT as a drop-off point and that the increased traffic also "will accelerate already visible damage to the asphalt and sidewalks" at the mall ...

Mohr said multiple buses arrive at the mall at the same time to allow riders to make connecting routes. But the LCT buses also bring business to the mall, she said.

"Ridership is up 20 percent from last year and about 89 percent of those riders are going to the mall, including shoppers and employees," Mohr said.

The transit system had 19,827 riders in August, she said.

CITY CHATTER from THE FREE TIMES, 9-21-00

"... Hitchhiker's guide to the mall -- The Jacobs Group has banned public bus access to their Midway Mall in Lorain County. Since 1986, Lorain County Transit's 13 bus lines have convened at the main entrance of the mall as both a destination point and a transfer point - but no longer.

Is this restriction of public transportation a means of weeding out the undesirables? A spokesperson for the LCT says it's a safety issue. That's right! The Jacobs boys are actually concerned for the well-being of those less fortunate!

Or not. The more likely explanation is that the rights of car owners (those with money) were weighed against those of bus riders (those without money), and the Jacobs boys decided to give right-of-way on the heavily traveled routes to the fatter wallets ..."

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 11-30-00, By SANDRA LIVINGSTON, PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

Protests planned for Jacobs properties

The local AFL-CIO and the national Jobs with Justice coalition are planning holiday-season demonstrations at malls around the country owned by the Richard E. Jacobs Group.

The Cleveland AFL-CIO Federation of Labor and the coalition of labor, community and religious groups contend that the Jacobs Group is stalling and using retaliation to avoid negotiating a union contract for 28 workers at Belden Village Mall near Canton. Workers voted in September to join United Food & Commercial Workers Local 880 ...

Local 880 said the Belden mall workers are mostly part-timers in gift wrap, promotions, customer service and housekeeping who on average earn $6.25 to $6.50 an hour. The company disputed those figures but declined to supply others.

The Jacobs Group has the right to contest what it deems a tainted election, said a lawyer for the company, ... Merritt Bumpass, a partner at Frantz Ward LLP.

If activists "propose to demonstrate on private property, they will be guilty of trespassing, interfering with business relationships" and potentially other violations, he said.

John Ryan, executive secretary of the Cleveland-area labor federation, portrayed the dispute as a "moral issue" centering on "how the Jacobs Group is treating the results of a democratic process.

Before the election, the Jacobs Group had urged workers not to unionize. After the vote, it filed a protest with the National Labor Relations Board, contending that two workers had engaged in improper election activity.

Frederick J. Calatrello, the board's regional director in Cleveland, determined that the objections lacked merit and certified the vote. The Jacobs Group has appealed to the full board in Washington, D.C., an action unionists call a delaying tactic.

Meanwhile, Local 880 has filed board charges contending that since the election, the Jacobs Group has retaliated by cutting hours, targeting union activists for discipline, eliminating the Christmas-season bonus, nixing a policy that allowed workers to switch shifts and giving desirable duties at the mall s Santa Land to temporary workers. Those charges are under investigation.

"We strongly deny having violated the law at all," Bumpass said.

E-mail: slivings@plaind.com

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